Boys Basketball

Second-Chance Points: Playoff Seedings Beginning To Take Form

Matt DeLuca and Ridgefield are zeroing in on the top seed for the FCIAC Tournament. (Mark Conrad)

Some thoughts after watching Ridgefield’s 69-61 win over Fairfield Warde last night, and other results from around the league:

— Ridgefield and Trinity Catholic are going to be the top two seeds in the FCIAC Tournament. The Tigers have a one-game lead with three to go but lost to the Crusaders, who have a relatively easy remaining schedule. If Ridgefield can get by Wilton tomorrow night it will then be a heavy favorite in its final two home games.

— Looking at the standings right now, outside of winning the regular-season title I’m not sure there is any advantage in how you are seeded this season. I would want to avoid the Crusaders until the final.

— Who are the lower seeds I might want to avoid? If Staples is hot from 3-point range, it is a dangerous team. I am not sure that is sustainable for the entire tournament, but for a game or two… If Stamford gets in, Jay Jaudon and Jaden Bell form a dangerous backcourt. The Black Knights right now should not be on the outside looking in.

— I don’t have to wait: Andrew McClellan gets my vote for FCIAC Coach of the Year. In fact, he is very much in the discussion for best coach in the league. It is not as if you watch the Tigers and say, wow, they have so much more talent than everybody else. That is not to minimize their personnel, but you would think there would have been a couple of slip ups. Ridgefield never beats itself. You have to make fewer mistakes to win.

— Warde lost last night but did nothing to diminish my belief they are still capable of winning the championship. Playing a consistent 32 minutes continues to be the key.

— We are looking at a real logjam for the final six playoff spots, with one game separating four teams for seeds three through six. The Warde-St. Joseph game a week from tomorrow is looking like a major domino to figuring out the final standings.

— Last night was a reminder, by their absence, how great the fans at Ridgefield and Warde normally are. Ridgefield was in the middle of a five-day holiday weekend and Warde also had no school. Thus, there was little buzz in the Tigers’ gym. If those teams meet again, say at Wilton, the stands will be filled with students. They were missed last night.

— I suspect an absence of students will not be the case tomorrow night, when the Warriors host Ridgefield. Has Wilton finally found its mojo?

— The paucity of impact players this season was crystallized last weekend. First came a text from a coach who said I’ve yet to mention one of his players, who “may actually be the conference’s player of the year.”

Advertisement

The player in question is not the best player on his team — some might pick him third — and unless there is a dramatic change won’t be on my first or second All-FCIAC teams.

It started me thinking who the frontrunner is for Player of the Year, or even a top five for the All-FCIAC team. There is no obvious choice, or choices. I mentioned to two coaches a player who always has good games when I see his team play, and they both mentioned one of his teammates for Player of the Year.

Right now the best player in the league is Trinity’s Malcolm Newman. He has taken the team to the next level. But can you give the award to someone who has had such a big impact, but has only played half the season?

It all goes to show how the top seven to 10 players are so similar. Picking an all-conference team will be like selecting the first five eggs out of a container. They may have a few different attributes but are very similar.

— Thanks to all Division I teams automatically qualifying for the state playoffs — don’t get me started — defending league runner-up Danbury will get to continue playing in March.

For now, the Hatters are in spoiler mode. Last night they hit Trumbull with what literally may have been the knockout punch with a 51-47 road win. Their final two league games are against Stamford and Ridgefield.

Bracketology

No. 1 Trinity Catholic (12-5, 11-2) vs. No. 8 Brien McMahon (8-6, 8-5)
No. 2 Ridgefield (15-2, 12-1) vs. No. 7 Staples (12-5, 8-5)
No. 3 Fairfield Warde (13-4, 10-3) vs. No. 6 St. Joseph (12-5, 10-4)
No. 4 Fairfield Ludlowe (13-4, 9-4) vs. No. 5 Wilton (10-7, 9-4)

(A lot of this material appeared the past two days on Overtime, the new Ruden Report newsletter. It is free and delivered via email each weekday morning, with content not found on the site. Sign up below.)